After weeks of delay and excuses, the last of Syria’s known stocks of chemical weapons have been shipped out of the country for destruction abroad, according to the U.N. monitoring organization, the New York Times reported today.
The operative word in that sentence is “known.” The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said it will take weeks, possibly much longer, to verify that all of the Assad regime’s arsenal of chemical weapons have been removed. Assad’s record of lying and cheating, to say nothing of brutality and use of poison gas, could mean that the full truth won’t be know until he and his regime been removed.
On one point we can take his word. Not the part where he denied using chemical nerve agents against his own people but the part where he insisted that he was only stockpiling them to kill Jews. He said the weapons were for future attacks on Israel.
If that is so – and there is no reason to doubt him – this is a bigger achievement for Israel than for Syrians, who, thanks to Assad’s air superiority and massive conventional arms stocks, continue to be slaughtered daily.
The agreement to remove these weapons of mass destruction was brokered last summer by Russia and the United States after hundreds of Syrian civilians were killed in a poison gas attack on a Damascus suburb last August. Syria denied using the chemical nerve agents, blaming the rebel forces, but apparently not even Assad’s Russian allies were buying that.
Destruction of the weapons will take about four more months, far beyond the June 30 deadline previously set. Some of the work has begun in Finland; more will be done at facilities in the United States, Britain and Germany as well as at sea aboard an American ship.
OPCW said Syrian cooperation has, at best, been “satisfactory” and it still needs much more information about the extent of Abbas’s WMD programs.